As the world celebrates International Women’s Day today, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha announced that the country will get its first batch of female fighter pilots on June 18 this year.
“As of now three women trainees have volunteered to join the fighter stream. They are under the second phase of their training. Once they complete their training and are at par with their male colleagues and the passing out parade is scheduled on June 18th.”
Raha added that the three trainees will get commissioned on that day and will subsequently go to the advanced jet training, and then to the regular squads.
Thanking Defence minister Manohar Parrikar for approving Indian Air Force (IAF) proposal to induct women as fighter pilots, he said, “We inducted women as pilots in 1991, but on only helicopter and transport (planes). I must thank the Defence Minister for the approval and very soon IAF will get its first woman fighter pilot.”
Speaking at a seminar on ‘Women in Armed Medical Corps’, Raha said that it was AMC who first provided the opportunity to women to serve in the defence after which, the floodgates have opened for women to prove their mettle.
But, in March last year, Raha had said that women were not physically suited to fly fighter planes.
“As far as flying fighter planes is concerned, it is a very challenging job. Women are by nature not physically suited for flying fighter planes for long hours, especially when they are pregnant or have other health problems,” he had said.
However, he changed his stand later.